From Adele to Lady Gaga, How Pop is Dominating UK Music

Last week The Official Charts Company UK put out the news that for the first time in seven years pop albums outsold rock in 2011. Of course, with the monster success of Adele’s 21 that may not come as too much of a surprise, but actually, Adele aside, only two guitar driven bands made the top 20 albums list (and one of those was Coldplay with their poppiest offerings to date).

What this means for the UK music scene is an interesting debate. The recent Brit Award nominations seem to show, in terms of credibility at the very least, the music industry still values indie/rock, yet sales are saying the public don’t always agree. Sales are leaning to pop and trends are leaning towards a more urban sound, is the guitar history?

Here is our take on the matter. Music moves in fads, always has, always will. What always lives out is talent. The legends of music produce fantastic, diverse music. The recent tragic death of Etta James shows us that. From MJ to Madonna to The Rolling Stones to The Beatles, no genre has exclusive rights over success or credibility. Pop will always have a harder time in being taken seriously, but when it’s good you just can’t deny.

We have a diverse range of tastes in this office, in fact when we considered it we realised it is about as diverse as it gets (rock, indie, grime, jungle, pop, electro, musicals, dub step) and really that’s the point of music, enjoy what you like and listen away. This writer is a giant Madonna fan, if you don’t like her, don’t listen. I really think it’s that simple.

So we’re excited to see what albums are going to explode in 2012, we have a good feeling about music this year (Azealia Banks, Emeli Sande, Madonna, Leonard Cohen) so watch this space.

Stay vocal

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The Urban Music Scene – my kind of place.

The first working Monday morning has passed and how many of you have already broken your new year resolutions? If you have you can join my club and I am sure a lot of other people’s clubs out there.  Try not to worry.

I came across this article in The Guardian the other day.  It discusses if their is any discrimination against the urban music scene through the use of form 696 and how police are more likely to shut them down due to an artists ethnicity.  It got me thinking to the extent in which this is fair or whether it is right for police to ask it even if statistics prove it so.

I am a Vocalzoner who loves urban music and have attended a lot of safe and not so safe venues in search of my favourite underground artists.  I can honestly say I personally have never witnessed anything I have not seen at a more mainstream gig in Wembley or any other club or venues.  To me they are all the same, the music is different and does suggest a different mood however, the energy created all goes to the same place, the artist on stage.

I strongly believe no matter what you are listening to, where you are, it is always individuals that are the problem, never the crowd.  In my opinion, any gig where less risk assessment is done and there are therefore fewer rules seems to go more smoothly.  The bouncers are more relaxed as they are not having to tell people off every 5 minutes for something as silly as dancing on a chair to your favourite song (may have had experience with this one!), people aren’t getting angry for being told off all the time, and all in all there is a better atmosphere.

A really great example of an urban music event was the Radio 1xtra Soundclash.  I was lucky enough to be given a ticket in early 2011.  No bouncers, plenty of drink (bonus), stars walking past you all the time.  Not one problem.  There was enough space for everyone to see, great example, and it featured a lot of underground artists.  So you could argue that the tickets were given out randomly and therefore not a fair representation of a typical crowd, however I don’t think so, in my opinion it is, they are fans.

This weekend I will be travelling to the big smoke for an event that has not happened in a very long time; Eskimo Dance.  Now, this is one of the biggest grime nights that ever was and it is back.  The Godfather of Grime Wiley is putting grime back on the map with what is set to be one of the biggest nights in 2012.

As you can imagine I am super excited, not only for the amount of artists that are going to be performing but also due to the fact yours truly has VIP tickets. Yes Yes I know, the majority of you reading this might not care too much for the genre, however take notice because 2012 is going to be one massive step in the right direction for Grime.

Back to my original point, the reason it stopped?

‘I should’ve brought it back ages ago. It should never have stopped, really, but the police stopped it. They weren’t sure dodgy stuff wasn’t gonna go on.’ Wiley expclaimed in a recent interview for Time Out.

Check back next week for a full report on the night, and hopefully some pictures of me with my favourite guys!  So if you are stuck wondering what you are going to do on Saturday 14th January I strongly suggest Proud2, o2 Arena, South London.

Read the article, let us know what you think.  We have had a long discussion here at Vocalzone HQ and need your thoughts.

Stay Vocal

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Happy New Year

Happy new year Vocalzoners. What a fantastic night to finish a brilliant 2011. We hope everyone had a fantastic night whatever you got up to (fried egg sandwich and strawberry flavoured water cures all).

We haven’t all that much to say, full blog when we return from the festive time and start doing some work, but we did think we’d share with you the four things we are most excited about for 2012.

Music is going to divide but STEPS ARE GOING ON TOUR. Forgive me please, this author was about ten when they were about so it’s a nostalgia thing. Throw some pre-decided shapes and sing along to some of the worst/best pop songs of all time.

Theatre is going to be a big part of our 2012 but we’re most excited about the World Shakespeare Festival. The whole world is producing new theatre around one of the most celebrated British playwrights of all time, what’s not to love.

Surely the Olmypics needs a mention. We have various tickets between us and are very excited by the whole thing.

Finally, it’s US! We have big plans for 2012, stay tuned people.

Have brilliant new years day everyone, come back in a few days for a less hungover entry (not that we drink, very irresponsible, drink sensibly etc etc).

Stay Vocal

 

 

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Bring Back the Christmas Single: A Message to Pop Stars the Land Over

Whatever happened to the Christmas song? That has been debated for the past few years (since the birth of the inescapable X Factor Christmas number one I suppose). From Slade to Mariah, love them or hate them, every December the old ones seem to return to the charts while current pop stars neglect the art of the Christmas song. Even the power of Bieber, who this year released a Christmas album, was unable to take a new Christmas track to the top of the charts. The unanswerable questions is risen again, if Bieber can’t, who can?

What about Coldplay. In 2010 they released Christmas Lights, surely if anyone can resurrect the genre it’s the unstoppable force of Coldplay? Nope, they got to number 13 (which is not to be sniffed at but isn’t a number one let’s be honest).

The Feeling, Status Quo, The Manic Street Preachers; so many have tried to resurrect the Christmas song, none have managed. So we had an idea. We were brainstorming; which current pop star can create a hit like Delia can create a crumble? Someone sexy, light-hearted, fiery. Britney? Too busy planning weddings. Justin Timberlake? Too busy making romantic comedies. Bono? Too important for us to bother.

Here is our plea, after much thought we have decided the challenge falls to Rihanna. Use that sex appeal you use so well and give us a HO HO Holiday. A Sexy Sledging Season. Why can S&M not be Santa and Mary? Go simple and knock it out the park. With your help we can make 2012 the year of the Christmas song rebirth. Now that is something to look forward to.

In the mean time IT’S CHRIIIIIIIIIIIISTMASSSS.

One week to go, enjoy the build up, stay vocal

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Best Film to Stage Adaptations

Let’s be real, for a lot of people a night out to watch a musical isn’t always their first choice when it comes to making plans. Here at Vocalzone, we take a more open minded approach to our arts. While we love a great film, we’re partial to a great show too, however ridiculous it may be. What we love more is when the two are combined. In most cases, films based on books are rarely as great as the original material (an example being this, let’s be honest) yet with the stage, taking a film and putting it live in front of audiences often has fairly awesome results. Here are our top five films to stage adaptations. Read with an open mind!

5) Billy Elliot the Musical

The Academy award nominated, BAFTA winning film was a triumph for British cinema so it came as no surprise when the musical adaptation won numerous awards (including Laurence Olivier Award’s and several Tony Awards) and was hailed by critics as a success. Still running productions around the globe, Billy Elliot the Musical is fantastically heart warming and brilliantly done, one of our faves for sure.

4) Legally Blonde the Musical

A success with critics and the buying public alike, this hilarious film was seen as a breath of fresh air to the often stagnant chick flick genre. The stage show, well it’s certainly on the fluffy side of theatre but looking at its list of accolades might surprise you. Well cast and wickedly funny, it’s not going to be the new Othello but that’s kind of okay for us, any show that can’t put a power song as epic as THIS in it has thumbs up from (most of) us.

3) Hairspray

The journey of Hairspray is maybe less conventional, a film in the late 80’s turned into a musical in the early 00’s then turned into a remake film based on the stage show in the later 00’s. It’s as camp as tents in summertime and complete with a middle-aged man playing a middle mother, this may sound like a cliché ridden mess. However, among its productions it’s won an incredible number of awards and is a real fun factor musical with a massively serious message within it (the basic premise of the show is racial equality).

2) Carrie the Musical

Okay, this is one will be controversial to musical fans, it’s usually cited as one of the biggest flops in Broadway history. The film is a cult classic and the stage show isn’t far off being the same thing. Ridiculous production and a frankly bizarre soundtrack meant it was mauled by critics and closed after only 5 performances, probably not one you’d expect on our list. In reality, that is probably why it is here. By being so ridiculous, it was met with cheers and boos alike, it is infamous and it’s gone down in history, making it a classic show, if not the best example of Broadway turning a profit.

1) Lion King

Anyone who comes to us and says they dislike this movie is assumed to be heartless, literally without heart. The soundtrack makes it, set it among an African landscape and we we’re hooked. Our favourite by far. NO. DOUBT.

That list is not comprehensive, we recently saw Matilda the Musical and loved it, for example, but is fair (if theatre students wish to quote us in dissertations the reference is Vocalzone, 2011). Go and see them, open your mind to a musical, if all that happens is you leave and scream for 17 minutes straight, at least you’ll have a Vocalzone for your poorly throat and anyway we reckon you might just enjoy yourself, in fact we’re sure of it.

Stay Vocal

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The Vocalzone Music Awards 2011

Did you hear about our very own The Naked and Famous, check them out here, they just smashed the New Zealand Music Awards! It seems awards season is well and truly kicking off with the Grammy nominations announced yesterday; props to Adele, Kanye West and particularly the Foo Fighters (who some of the Vocalzoners saw at Isle of Wight Festival last summer and said their set was epic) for their many nominations.

With that in mind we thought it was time to announce the winners of… The Vocalzone Music Awards 2011 (NOT the VMA’s, for copyright reasons, obv).

Sexiest Male(s): Take That. We know we specified ‘singer’ but we are greedy, why have one when you can have five. Unfortunately, this saying is said in our heads way too much at Christmas time; maybe just ONE more drink.

Sexiest Female: Rihanna (who else?)

Hottest band of 2011: The Naked and Famous, because nine months on our office is still rocking Passive Me, Aggressive You.

Sophisticated Sistaaa: Katherine Jenkins – pure elegance.

Grime Time Award: Scrufizzer (for one Vocalzoner who just can’t keep herself off of the grime scene)

Life Time Achievement Award: Tom Jones – he’s our man, it had to be.

So there you have it, the most prestigious award night of the year comes to an end. Below is a photo of three of the Vocalzoners at the ‘ceremony’, in case you missed it

Image

Stay Vocal

DISCLAIMER: there was no independent adjudicator; we just really like these guys.

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X Factor Explained (by a throat pastille and its maker)

You can’t deny X Factor continues to divide the troops. In one corner, diehard fans who live for it, in the other, those who, well, those who don’t. In this blog we are going to address the raging war once and for all and explain in four points why we still think the X Factor is the best thing since the Wispa Gold.

The new judges

Say what you like, and I’ve no doubt you will, the new judges certainly brought the fire with them. Whether it’s Kelly becoming so sassy she can no longer form real words (“mm hmm mama, boo boo dannng”), Tulisa advertising her perfume on her arm every weekend (allegedly) or the whole lot of them fighting like naughty boys and girls (see here for further information), nobody can doubt 2011 was truly the year of the judges.

The controversy

Okay, so maybe the hype around Frankie leaving was perhaps over done and bully-gate was sensationalised, but in our memories no X Factor series has fed the tabloid press so well. Here at Vocalzone we realise the stories are neither important nor fully genuine, but guess what, we LOVE it.

The talent

The main attack leveled at the X Factor is that it is attacking the music industry and halts the progress of real talent. We say differently. Of course by its nature it creates pop stars and not indie/metal/grime/rock/hip hop stars, but we think that’s okay. NME will never approve and the big boys with guitars will look down on it all, but until they can cackle like Misha or swing their hips like Marcus we know what we’ll be watching on a Saturday.

The opportunity to imagine

The most important point is simple, watching the X Factor makes us immediately want to be on stage. None of us Vocalzoners are really what you’d call naturally talented where singing is involved yet in our heads we all know how our audition would go (song choices include Womanizer, 99 Problems and It’s All Coming Back To Me Now; we’re nothing if not diverse). We all know our look, our sound, who our mentor is and we have all practiced our X Factor time when alone in our houses. We would place a bet that 90% of X Factor fans have done this; to you 10% who haven’t, do it (your bed is your stage, your brush is your microphone, your imagination is your only boundary, GO).

So there you have it, our favourite things about the X. It’s harmless, it’s amusing and viewed ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek it’s the highlight of our TV guide. Have your say and tell us what you think on Twitter, Facebook  and leave a comment below.

Stay Vocal

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